Friday, 22 April 2011

Klein at the Feast of the Gods, by Matthew Clarke (my fan fiction)

Another story featuring Big Finish character, Elizabeth Klein. This is set between A Thousand Tiny Wings and Survival of the Fittest.

The Doctor and Klein sat at the breakfast table in the TARDIS. Klein was in her dressing gown and slippers. The Doctor wore his linen safari suit ('Did he ever take if off?' wondered Klein).

Klein tucked into her continental breakfast. She had absolutely no idea where the fresh croissants and orange juice came from. She had seen the food machine, but that only offered stuff that looked like marzipan. The Doctor had mentioned a kitchen, but she had never seen it and presumably the stock had to come from somewhere. There were times when she felt it was a waste of time trying to puzzle out the mysteries of the Doctor's bizarre lifestyle. Nevertheless, the croissants tasted good where ever they came from. She and the Doctor might be enemies, but he treated her like an honoured guest on board his TARDIS.

"Make sure you save your appetite," the Doctor said. "We are going to be having a substantial lunch."

"Intriguing, Herr Doctor," replied Klein. "Where in the universe are you taking us?"

"There's some maintenance that needs doing to the ship. After that we are going to ancient Egypt," he explained.

"Earth again? It was not that long ago that we went to that villa in ancient Rome," she protested.

"I know that you enjoyed the rest, Klein, even if you are loathe to admit it," he said.

"Perhaps I did, Doctor. However, it does seem a shame to spend so much time on earth when we could see any planet in the entire universe," said Klein.

"One can't appreciate the universe without knowing something about where you came from, Klein. Which is precisely why I want you to see ancient Egypt. You have this idea that your own branch of Homo Sapiens are the master race. Yet did you know there were sentient beings on earth before your race evolved? Did you know that at many points in history, humanity has been influenced and aided by beings from other planets?" said the Doctor, his eyes widening.

"Theosophy," sneered Klein. "I am well aware of such theories. Reichsfuehrer Heinrich Himmler was very enthusiastic about such notions. 'Ancient Masters' and the 'Elder Race.' It all seems very unscientific."

The Doctor smiled. "Himmler might be surprised how un-Aryan his 'Ancient Masters' looked. Anyway, we shall get to meet them later on today."

Elephantine, c.2630 BC

Klein felt very under dressed walking through the streets of the small town in her flimsy Egyptian dress and bare feet. Apparently sandals were not worn much in the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Still, in this hot weather, the light Egyptian clothing did leave her feeling comfortable at least. This was the southern part of Egypt, near the frontier with Nubia. The dark-haired wig, on the other hand was not comfortable in the slightest. The Doctor had pointed out that her fair hair could attract too much attention. Next time the wretched Doctor wanted to visit the ancient world, it had better be to her Nordic barbarian ancestors, she told herself. She smiled at the thought of dressing up like a character in a Wagnerian opera.

It suddenly occurred to Klein that the Doctor was still wearing his safari suit. She felt a little surprised that she had not noticed this when they were leaving the TARDIS. She pointed this out to him. "Herr Doctor, I appreciate your assistance in helping me to blend in with the surroundings, but I can't help pointing out that your own attire is rather anachronistic."

The Doctor gave her one of his typically mysterious looks. "I am a Time Lord. Being anachronistic is simply an impossibility for me." Klein decided that it was pointless to enquire further. The Doctor was happy to explain about the mating habits of alien fauna, but would never give a coherent explanation of anything related to his person.

The town was small. It was clustered around a temple. Klein's knowledge of archaeology was limited, but she could see that this temple was a good deal less impressive than some of the Egyptian buildings she had seen in photographs. According to the Doctor, the Egyptians had only just started building pyramids at this stage.

A thousand unfamiliar smells assaulted her nose. They were as strange to her as those of any alien planet. She watched as lightly clad dark-skinned people scurried about their daily business. Klein imagined that an archaeologist or historian from her time would be fascinated at this glimpse of the ancient world, but she found it dull. Her interest was in science and the future, not the dead past.

A man walked past. The Doctor approached him. "Ah, you look like a scribe," he said. "Might I borrow some of your papyrus?" The scribe passed him a sheet of papyrus.

The Doctor took it from the scribe. Klein was surprised at how readily the scribe handed it over. Surely it had some value? The Doctor seemed to be very good at getting what he wanted. She noticed him take out a fountain pen and begin to write.

As he wrote,the Doctor continued to talk to the scribe. "Tell me, sir. Is the Feast of the Gods taking place today?"

"Indeed it is," replied the scribe. "The great old ones will be attending the temple of Khnum where I humbly serve the priests. No doubt it will be a wondrous occasion for those priests who are permitted to behold it."

The Doctor smiled. "My friend and I were planning to drop in ourselves," he said.

"That is impossible," cried the scribe. "As I said, the only mortals permitted there are the priests- and you are certainly not among that number."

"No, I am one of the gods," said the Doctor casually. He showed the priest the papyrus on which he had just been writing. "This document is proof of my godhood. As you can see it is signed by the Sun God himself."

The scribe fell to his knees in shock. "Forgive my ignorance, Great Lord Thoth! I will show you and your immortal handmaiden to the feast at once."

Following the scribe, Klein whispered in the Doctor's ear. "You wrote that document yourself in front of his very eyes!"

The Doctor beamed at her. "Yes, it's amazing what people fail to notice," he said dryly. Once again, it was useless for Klein to enquire any further.

The Doctor and Klein were led to the largest room of the Temple of Khnum. It was decorated by statues of various peculiar looking idols. Most prominent of all was a massive statue of Khnum, a ram-headed deity. The feast was arranged like a buffet, with a table laid with all kinds of foods, some of which were recognisable to Klein, others of which were quite mysterious. Yet the food was not the surprise but the guests. Milling around the table were various strange beings, some humanoid, others of which were bizarre creatures. Klein felt quite uncomfortable at being surrounded by so many alien lifeforms.

"Don't be shy, Klein. Help yourself to the food," the Doctor instructed. "Ancient Egypt was a cosmopolitan and multi-racial society. All kinds of extraterrestrials were welcomed here. They are here under a truce. They're friends now, but tomorrow they will be back to killing each other. Naturally, some of them are my deadly enemies."

The Doctor and Klein were approached by a huge figure. His head was horned and his legs were like hoofed and goat-like. "Doctor! You Time Lords are most welcome here, though I know your people are so loathe to visit. Enjoy the food and good company," he said before moving on.

Klein turned to the Doctor. "He looked remarkably like a satyr or a medieval illustration of the Devil!"

"That's where they got the idea, Klein. He is worshipped here in ancient Egypt under the guise of Khnum. His race are best known as Daemons. They have influenced the course of evolution on many worlds, including your own," he explained.

Klein stared at a figure that moved past her. It was vaguely humanoid in shape, but its body was composed of a mass of green tubes, like spaghetti. In its oddly-shaped head it had one single eye. The Doctor ushered her away from the creature. "That gentleman is the last of a warlike race called the Jaggoroth. I don't really want to bump into him," he warned.

The Daemon was conversing with two figures wearing long robes. They had peculiarly immobile mouse-like heads. "Those are Osirians. A lot of people think they have dome-shaped heads. I think they must be getting them mixed up with the Sontarans."

The Doctor pointed to some humanoid creatures with rough, bark-like green skin. "Those are Exxilons. They are mostly busy building stuff in South America. A rather boring lot if you ask me."

A man walked past who appeared to be a perfectly normal human. He had a thick black beard and wore the garb of ancient Mesopotamia. He smiled at Klein, revealing large, sharp canine fangs. One of the Egyptian priests knelt before him, offering his arm. The man bit into the priest's arm and sucked. Removing his bloodstained fangs, he allowed the priest to get up again and stagger out of the room.

The Doctor snarled with anger. "That is a Mal'akh. He is a human who has been tainted by the DNA of the Yssgaroth, terrible vampire creatures from another universe. As a Time Lord, I have a duty to destroy such creatures. It would be a breach of hospitality to do that now, however. Another time."

"Its nice to have some female company here," said a creature to Klein. It was a woman with shiny green skin. Like Klein she wore a white Egyptian dress and was barefoot. On her head she wore an impressive headdress decorated with ostrich feathers. "I'm Valtair, from the planet Diplos. The natives here worship me as the goddess Maat. What goddess are you posing as?"

Klein was amused by the question. "I'm just a humble handmaiden of Thoth, I'm afraid," she replied.

"Bad luck," said Valtair of Diplos. "Next time you must come as Hathor, daughter of Ra. It's dreadfully fun being a goddess." She then walked back to the buffet table.

A priest approached the Daemon and handed him a piece of papyrus. He made a loud coughing noise and addressed the feast. "Ladies and gentleman, if I may briefly have your attention. I have here a note of apology from The Enemy of the Time Lords. They were hoping to attend, but they have been unavoidably detained in Japan. Perhaps we shall see them next time."

The Doctor muttered to himself. "Enemy of the Time Lords? I must look into that." He then noticed two scaly, reptilian humanoids picking up slices of meat from the buffet table. "Eocenes!" he exclaimed, turning to Klein. "They inhabited the earth when humans were apes. I had no idea that any were dormant at this time."

Some of the species were completely removed from any resemblance to humans. The Doctor pointed out a peculiar creature that looked like a giant crab, with thin, membranous wings on its back. In place of a head, it had a mass of nodules. "That's a Mi-Go, also called a Darkling. They originally came from Yuggoth, but they invaded earth in the Jurassic era. Although it looks like a crab, it is actually a sort of fungus. My old friend Howard was fascinated when I told him about those."

Another peculiar creature resembled a giant locust, but with three legs. The Doctor seemed unusually startled by it. "I haven't not met one of those before," he said. "Old Bernard at the British Rockets Group did some research on their fossils. He seemed to think they were from Mars, but I rather doubt it. It's a bit too crowded on Mars."

There were other creatures at the feast that even the Doctor did not recognise. He had never encountered the humanoids with the deep voices and glowing eyes before. He asked one of the Osirians about them. It could not remember the name of this race, but told the Doctor that they had a worm-like creature inside their chests. The Doctor had also never seen the large muscular creatures with dreadlocked hair, massive jaws and tusks. These creatures carried an awful lot of weaponry and he judged it was best to avoid them. It was about time to go.

"Are you ready to go, Klein?" he asked.

However, Klein was not at all herself. She sat on the floor scratching the walls of the temple. He addressed her again "Klein?" She stared at him and made an ape-like grunting.

"Oh, poor, Klein! You're having some race memories flooding back. I had better get you back to the TARDIS and into bed. We'll soon have you back to normal after a good's night's rest and a cup of tea."

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